Knights have record day

UCF tops Navy, ex­tends na­tion’s long­est win­ning streak to 22 games

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Matt Murschel

It was just an­other en­try on a long list of high­lights dur­ing UCF quar­ter­back McKenzie Mil­ton’s stel­lar ca­reer.

Fac­ing third-and-three mid­way through the sec­ond quar­ter, Mil­ton avoided the Navy rush and scram­bled free for a 21-yard gain.

And of his 265 ca­reer rush­ing at­tempts, this one would take on greater mean­ing be­cause it gave him 1,032 ca­reer rush­ing yards, mov­ing him ahead of one of the great­est quar­ter­backs in UCF his­tory — Daunte Culpep­per — as the school’s all-time lead­ing rush­ing quar­ter­back.

“That’s a huge honor,” Mil­ton said of set­ting the mark dur­ing No.

12 UCF’s 35-24 win over Navy on Satur­day. “Daunte is ob­vi­ously a leg­end, not just here but in the NFL. That’s huge.”

But the ju­nior was quick to add, “I’m pretty sure that [backup] Dar­riel Mack will pass that up when his time comes.”

Culpep­per wrapped up an il­lus­tri­ous col­lege ca­reer with 1,020 rush­ing yards in 1998. Two decades later, Mil­ton passed him.

Mil­ton fin­ished with 62 rush­ing yards while adding 200 yards pass­ing and two touch­down passes, help­ing the Knights with­stand a sec­ond-half charge by the Mid­ship­men at Spec­trum Sta­dium.

With the vic­tory, UCF ex­tended the na­tion’s long­est win streak to

22 games.

UCF coach Josh He­u­pel was pleased with Mil­ton’s per­for­mance.

“[He was] re­ally ac­cu­rate with the foot­ball, a great de­ci­sion­maker, the abil­ity for him to ad­just to some­thing that had not been seen on tape within the course of the ball­game speaks to his un­der­stand­ing and knowl­edge of foot­ball,” He­u­pel said.

It was a rel­a­tively slow start for the UCF of­fense, which didn’t find the end zone un­til mid­way through the first quar­ter when Greg McCrae plowed his way for an 11-yard touch­down run that gave the Knights the first lead of the day.

He­u­pel said Navy came out in an un­fa­mil­iar de­fense, forc­ing UCF to ad­just its of­fen­sive game­plan.

“Struc­turally, they were com­pletely dif­fer­ent than any­thing they showed on tape the en­tire sea­son, and I thought our coaches and play­ers did a great job of ad­just­ing af­ter that first se­ries and find a way to go score some points,” he said.

The Knights shifted gears and fo­cused on the run game.

UCF ran the foot­ball dur­ing more than 70 per­cent of its plays, fin­ish­ing with 297 yards and three rush­ing touch­downs. It was the third time this sea­son the team at­tempted at least 50 car­ries in a game.

McCrae, who has earned a prom­i­nent role in the Knights’ of­fen­sive scheme, fin­ished with a team-high 101 yards. It was his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game he ran for at least 100 yards and led the Knights in rush­ing.

“The credit goes to my O-line. They cre­ate big holes for me to run through,” McCrae said when asked if he feels like he’s in a zone now. “The O-line is in the zone.”

He­u­pel was also quick to heap praise on the of­fen­sive line’s per­for­mance.

“Hav­ing not prac­ticed the looks that they saw and be­ing mul­ti­ple in their looks as the game un­folded, I thought the com­mu­ni­ca­tion was re­ally, re­ally good from those guys,” He­u­pel said.

UCF did find some suc­cess through the air. Mil­ton con­nected with Dredrick Snel­son on a pair of touch­downs, in­clud­ing a

34-yarder in the sec­ond quar­ter that pushed the lead to 21-0.

It was Mil­ton’s 20th touch­down pass of the sea­son and his 22nd con­sec­u­tive game with a touch­down pass, ty­ing him with Culpep­per for sec­ond place in school’s ca­reer con­sec­u­tive touch­downs passes list.

“They gave us a to­tally dif­fer­ent look but we didn’t panic or any­thing,” said Snel­son, who fin­ished with a team-high in re­cep­tions (5) and re­ceiv­ing yards (72). “We were run­ning a lot to­day, which they were prob­a­bly ex­pect­ing, and [then they were] wait­ing on the run. So when they weren’t ex­pect­ing it, … McKenzie hit me over the mid­dle.”

UCF’s de­fense was able to han­dle Navy’s triple-op­tion of­fense through­out much of the game. But in the sec­ond half, the Mid­ship­men were able to break through with 21 points.

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